So how is this new Gettysburg game? Is it any good? What is it like? Here are some initial reactions from Mark:
I have been discussing ideas with Mike, but I have only played with the rules as written – and then the last couple times with the Baggage Train idea of 1 unit per Train rallying. That rule, by the way, really improves the game for my tastes!
Overall, I enjoy the game very much. I think it handles Day 1 as well or better than any other Gettysburg game I have played. It unfolds in a historically plausible manner, is fast paced, and leads to plenty of solid, difficult decisions for both sides. The PB system is responsible for a lot of that. The random chit draw along with the ability to try and alter the draw is what makes the 1st day challenging and variable.
That being said, the game suffers some of the same problems all Gettysburg games suffer in days 2 and 3. There are a lot of units, both sides are very strong, and it is essentially a stalemate. I find that in the opening turns of Day 2, there is still a feel of a good game going, with the South having an opportunity and the North just weak enough to make it exciting. But unless heavy losses are inflicted quickly, the game tends to bog down into a game where the South is pressured to win (since I interpret the rules to mean that if you play past day 1, the only kind of victory available for the South is a Major victory by Defeating the Union through 50% losses). The South no longer has any kind of positional or strength advantage by the second half of Day 2, so after that, it is a matter of attacking and hoping to out-roll the Union. Now, that is still an enjoyable process, especially since the game moves fairly quickly even once all of the forces are on the board. And the arrival of the cavalry on Day 3 adds a touch that most games do not have.
Toning down and getting rid of unit Recovery could help with this. Day 1 saw heavy Union losses, twice as many as the South took. After day 2, both armies were greatly reduced in strength. But in my games, both armies tend to enter day 3 almost full strength. That not only means a stalemate, but it makes the idea of the South eliminating 50% of the Union’s infantry almost impossible.
The FoE rules are more difficult to use in this game. That is due to the density of pieces and the busy terrain on the map – there are many slopes and slices of woods all over the place. So every unit on the front has to measure its LOS to see if and where it extends a FoE. And measuring can be difficult when the terrain is well-covered with units. I am not sure if there is a solution – but any kind of streamlining to make the process easier would help.
But overall I like this game, and I certainly would prefer it to any of the more complex games out there. Relatively few units, simple rules, variable command system, and a game that can be completed while covering all 3 days (most Gettysburg games simply cannot be completed in a reasonable amount of time, if at all!). I would say this adds a new take on a well-covered subject.